“X-Men” and “Juno” lesbian actress Ellen Page challenged Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on LGBT rights Friday during the Iowa State Fair, grilling him on the issue of anti-LGBT workplace discrimination.
As Cruz held a freshly grilled hamburger, Page questioned the senator, an opponent of LGBT rights, about gay and transgender people being fired because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Without ever addressing anti-LGBT discrimination, Cruz said the problem instead is religious persecution, citing his often-repeated story about a family business in Iowa that closed after it was found guilty of violating civil rights law by denying service to a same-sex couple. (The business closed on its own accord.)
Cruz also criticized progressive activists or what he said was being silent as Iran and the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria executing people suspected of being gay. On Monday, the U.N. Security Council was set to discuss the topic of ISIS’s violence against LGBT people in a special session.
JoDee Winterhof, the Human Rights Campaign’s senior vice president of policy of political affairs, took Cruz to task for ignoring the issue of anti-LGBT discrimination.
“Ted Cruz showed today that he is living in another era where he thinks it’s acceptable to treat LGBT people differently and allow businesses to refuse service to someone just because of who they are, or who they love,” Winterhof said. “Today Ted Cruz was served an important reminder that in a country like ours that values the free market economy, businesses should serve all law-abiding customers who can afford to pay equally, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
Page came out as a lesbian last year at the Human Rights Campaign’s “Time to Thrive” conference. Watch the exchange between her and Cruz here: